Bo-Kaap resident happy to see a crane moving out of their area after about 50 protesters gathered to prevent a crane from entering Bo-Kaap and making its way to a development on 40 Lion Street. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Bo-Kaap residents have lodged a fraud complaint with the police against the City relating to the sale of Bo-Kaap land to property developer Blok Urban Living.

Residents allege that the City contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act during the process.

Acting on behalf of the residents, community activist Hanif Loonat said he had lodged the fraud complaint at Cape Town Central police station of conspiracy to commit fraud and theft, and contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said: “A case of fraud has been registered for investigation.”

The land in question is the former St Monica’s Old Age Home in Lion Street, which is also suspected to once have been earmarked for social housing.

The property developer had purchased the site in March last year, and the City had approved the development of 56 residential units.

“It’s alleged the sale was fraudulent and filled with collusion. It’s alleged the City unlawfully benefited in the sum of R13 million because of the sale. 

"Also alleged is that certain documents relating to the sale had disappeared and are no longer available for perusal. We are of the view that an investigation is necessary,” Loonat said.

“Thousands of tourists have come to see and experience our way of life. A life full of colour, fun, patience and tolerance. A life which is fast running out and our people have had enough of this City’s immoral and corrupt agenda. 

"That’s why we opened a case against the City on the sale of the St Monica home and the land adjacent to it. This is to be developed in the best interest of a few who don’t live in it and at the expense of those who live in it. 

"We will never be fooled into accepting gentrification that benefits no one but a few unscrupulous, self-enriching and selfish individuals,” he posted on social media.

City spokesperson Priya Reddy said the City would consider representations on the matter. Blok has denied unlawfulness, and said the purchase, as well as the development, was in accordance with the law. It said it had given the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association the relevant information in 2017.

“Blok has made a great deal of information available to the Bo-Kaap Civics and Ratepayers Association as well as other organisations regarding the purchase, particularly land information and council plan information.

“Blok has developed as openly as possible and made numerous attempts to engage the civics constructively. However, those attempts have not been met with the same intention,” Blok said.

The case by Loonat was filed minutes after a challenge of an interdict brought by Blok against residents was postponed in the Western Cape High Court.

Blok last month applied for an interdict barring residents from “unlawful conduct” at the developer’s construction site.

It came months after they had withdrawn a previous interdict served on “all persons causing obstructions, unlawfully conducting themselves or attempting to cause obstructions, or unlawfully conduct themselves at the Lion Street site”.

Bo-Kaap Civic Association chairperson Osman Shaboodien said the case was postponed to December 18, adding a mini victory that came out of yesterday’s proceedings was that no cranes were allowed in the area until then.

“Another victory is that we uncovered certain things relating to the sale, pointing to alleged collusion.”

Cape Times